Neuroscientists may have discovered why cocaine addicts continue to exhibit destructive behaviors in spite of negative consequences. During a recent study, it was concluded that constant cocaine use actually impairs the reward circuitry of the user’s brain.
The Journal of Neuroscience found a biomarker explaining why cocaine addicts may have impaired thinking that enables them to continue on with their destructive patterns. Electroencephalogram (EEG) signals were viewed on a section of the reward center of the brain. A neurotransmitter called dopamine was released and accumulated more by neurons after a situation had occurred as expected. If the situation did not go as it was expected and meet the preferred outcome, it was found that the brain produced less dopamine as a response.
“The brain learns from it,” explained neuroscientist Muhammad Parvaz of the School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who lead the research study. “Whether you should go ahead with [cocaine] the next time or you should stay away from it.”
In other words, continual abuse of cocaine severely influences dopamine levels, which results in coke users making poor decisions over and over again because their reward system is confused.
The comparison test
There were two separate groups studied during the test by the research team. The first group included individuals that had tested positive for cocaine, and the second had people that tested negative within the last three days. There were 75 individuals in the study and they each had to pick which of four doors they believed had prizes behind them. If they had been correct, the individuals were rewarded with sixty cents and were shown a lit up green arrow.
Researchers expected that if the participants were rewarded the change and saw the arrow pointed upward, then they would have a positive response. If the participants were mistaken about the doors with the prizes, then they would see a red arrow pointing down and would instead lose thirty cents. Researchers expected that this would have a negative influence on participants. The result? It was observed that the individuals in the study were unable to prevent themselves from repeating the same negative outcome they had already previously done and been aware of. The study proved that the reward center of the brain in cocaine addicts was damaged.
“They don’t learn from it,” Parvaz explained in reference to why cocaine addicts continue to use in spite of negative consequences. “They go back to the drug,” he emphasized to show how addictive cocaine is. Rita Goldstein, a neuroscientist of the Brain Imaging Center at the medical school, elaborated more about why these cocaine addicts might be intrinsically inclined to continue with their use. “We think this is in line with self-medication hypothesis. Drug self-administration improves response to reward in drug addicted individuals.”
A key component to understanding cocaine addiction is the drug weakens the developmental process of dopamine, which causes the neurons to be unable to respond to most bodily functions, and this would explain why it’s common for cocaine addicts to continue their cycle of drug abuse. Goldstein mentioned how the future may hold promising ideals that “could become important markers that can be used to predict susceptibility for addiction or relapse, or to develop targeted interventions to improve outcome in this devastating, chronically relapsing disorder.” Addiction is a serious illness that can lead its sufferers to relapse, but this isn’t always the case. A program of recovery can be set in place when the recovering addict finds an effective way to maintain their recovery.
It is necessary to grasp that cocaine addicts are suffering from the disease of addiction but by seeking effective cocaine treatment and working through the process, recovery is attainable. Call now at 1-800-861-1768.Tags: addiction and the brain, brain drugs, cocaine, cocaine abuse, cocaine addict, cocaine addiction, cocaine effects